Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thursday Thirteen 449: Mortsafes



If you saw this week’s Tuesday Teaser, you know that mortsafes played a significant role in The Sinner by Amanda Stevens. I had heard of these contraptions previously, but reading this book prompted me to learn more about them.

01. Mortsafes were designed to protect graves from disturbance, particularly from body snatchers, who provided anatomy schools with fresh corpses from the early 1700’s.

02. It was necessary for medical students to learn anatomy by attending dissections of human subjects, but there was a low allowance of dead bodies allowed by the government—mostly criminals or the homeless who died with no known relatives.

03. Authorities turned a blind eye to grave robbing, as it advanced medical knowledge, and tried to keep publicity to a minimum so people would not know what was happening. Lonely country graveyards were particularly vulnerable. Grave-snatchers were paid to dig up and transport bodies—sometimes even across the sea.

04. Revelations led to public outrage, especially in Scotland, where the dead were revered, and where there was a literal belief in the Resurrection. It was believed by many that the dead could not rise in an incomplete state.

05. Knowledge of grave robbers led to finding ways of protecting one’s friends and relatives. The poor dug heather, branches, and rocks into new graves to make it more difficult to dig them up, and also set people to watch graves at night, when such activity was most likely to occur. Watch societies formed, with one in Glasgow registering 2,000 members.

06. The rich, however, could afford more extravagant measures such as vaults, table tombstones, mausoleums and iron cages around graves.

07. The mortsafe was invented around 1816, and were heavy iron or iron-and-stone cages that fit around graves.

08. Mortsafes were a complex design of heavy iron rods and plates that were padlocked together, and fit over the coffin. They could only be removed by two people with keys, and were kept in place for at least six weeks, by which time they deemed the body to be adequately decayed that it was no longer of use to medical schools.

09. Churches sometimes bought a number of mortsafes which were then rented to parishioners.

10. Similarly, watch societies would also buy several of the contraptions with membership dues, and hire them out to non-members.

11. Examples of mortsafes have been found close to all Scottish medical schools, as have watch towers used to watch graveyards for any nefarious activity.

12. Vaults—or morthouses—were built both above and partially below ground to protect the dead. A unique one in Aberdeenshire consists of a circular building with a thick studded wooden door and an inner iron door. Inside there is a turntable to accommodate seven coffins. A coffin would be moved round as further ones were added and by the time it reappeared the body would be of no use to the dissectionists.

13. There are only two known mortsafes in the United States, in Catawissa, Pennsylvania. This pair of mortsafes is more decorative than those traditionally found in Scotland and parts of Great Britain.






LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen




Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wordless Wednesday 255: Little Free Library Garden





There are ten of these at the nearby elementary school.



LINKING TO:

Wordless Wednesday




Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Teaser Tuesday 350: The Sinner

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current book or recent read.
* Share a few "teaser" sentences from somewhere in the book.
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!



This week's teaser comes from The Sinner by Amanda Stevens, on loan from a co-worker. This is book five in a series, and I recommend reading them in order, as there is a natural progression from one book to the next. This book started out creepy, and just got creepier.


About ten feet to my right, I’d glimpsed another cage. From what I could see through the weeds and vines, the device appeared identical to the first except for one grisly addition.

Inside the mortsafe, a pair of hands rose up out of a freshly mounded grave to grasp the iron grate.

(Chapter one)





ABOUT THE BOOK:
Series: Graveyard Queen #5

"I am a living ghost, a wanderer in search of my purpose and my place . . ."


I'm a cemetery restorer by trade, but my calling has evolved from that of ghost seer to death walker to detective of lost souls. I solve the riddles of the dead so the dead will leave me alone.

I've come to Seven Gates Cemetery nursing a broken heart, but peace is hard to come by…for the ghosts here and for me. When the body of a young woman is discovered in a caged grave, I know that I've been summoned for a reason. Only I can unmask her killer. I want to trust the detective assigned to the case for he is a ghost seer like me. But how can I put my faith in anyone when supernatural forces are manipulating my every thought? When reality is ever-changing? And when the one person I thought I could trust above all others has turned into a diabolical stranger?





Sunday, February 19, 2017

Random Photos: now You See It, Now You Don't





What little snow we had has faded fast this
week due to unseasonable warm temps --
we could see 60F next week . . .  in February!
That's almost 30 degrees above normal.




Friday, February 17, 2017

Skywatch Friday 185

Full Moon, Obscured by Clouds
Friday, 10 February 2017




LINKING TO: Skywatch Friday




Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Teaser Tuesday 349: KCPD Protector

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current book or recent read.
* Share a few "teaser" sentences from somewhere in the book.
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!



Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of the holiday, I bring you a teaser from KCPD Protector, a rom-suspense by Julie Miller. I've fallen behind in this series of books, so it was fun catching up a bit.


But the moment she spun around and would have seen his face, he released her or she was knocked free. Several people surged between them, blocking her view.

(Chapter Seven)









ABOUT THE BOOK:

There was no way Deputy Commissioner George Madigan was going to let his beautiful assistant fall prey to a stalker. Because Elise Brown wasn’t just another employee. Her vulnerable blue eyes triggered all of George’s protective instincts . . . and now her life was in jeopardy.

Working together almost 24/7 to bring the perp to justice—and sharing kisses passionate enough to ignite a Kansas City heat wave—George and Elise had forged the kind of partnership that could keep her out of harm’s way and potentially lead to happily ever after.

Until a deadly tornado struck and Elise was taken hostage . . . .



Sunday, February 12, 2017

2017 Valentines















Friday, February 10, 2017

Skywatch Friday 184








From Wednesday, 01 February 2017
The day started out clear before clouding 
over again -- but most of the clouds
were pushed out by Thursday morning



LINKING TO: Skywatch Friday




Thursday, February 09, 2017

Thursday Thirteen 448: Recently acquired

Owing to a lack of time and any other ideas, here is a list of some of the most recent ebooks books purchased. I receive daily emails from Goodreads, Bookbub and B&N featuring specials -- books that are on sale for $2.99 or less -- and sometimes it's difficult to resist temptation with prices far below the normal price. Some of these I had heard of, some I had not, and I've found a few books that looked interesting through these sources. And, as some may expect from me, it's a variety of genres: romance/women's fiction, mystery, literary fiction, and even a nonfiction selection. Now to actually read some of them . . . .

I'm linking titles to Goodreads, so that no one can accuse me of trying to sell something, or represent any particular company. Click on any link for more information!


1. Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax (Women's Fiction)

2. A Proposal to Die For by Vivian Conroy (Cozy Mystery)

3. Shadow and Silk by Elizabeth Lowell (orig. published as Amy Maxwell)

4. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (Historical Fiction)

5. The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure (Historical Fiction)

6. Friday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman (Cozy mystery series that looked fun)

7. Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult (Women's Fiction)

8. The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott (Historical Fiction)

9. Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks (Historical romance)

10. The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandria by Helen Rappaport (Collection of diary entries and letters written by the four sisters)

11. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen (Fiction)

12. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (Young Adult fantasy)

13. Also Known As by Robin Benway (YA; the cover and story description reminded me of Ally Carter's "Gallagher Girls" series, which I love)



Mind you, these are merely a few recent purchases for the Nook. There have been plenty of print selections, too.


So... How about you? Have you bought any books (ebook or print) recently?




LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen






Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Wordless Wednesday 253: Iced Fruit






LINKING TO:

Wordless Wednesday




Teaser Tuesday 348: The Boxcar Children

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current book or recent read.
* Share a few "teaser" sentences from somewhere in the book.
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!



This week's teaser is from a classic children's book by Gertrude Chandler Warren, The Boxcar Children. I came across this one recently, and couldn't resist picking it up and rereading it. I'll pass it on to one of our neighborhood Little Free Libraries when it warms up enough to walk again (and I'm not still sick). Published in 1942, this book was so popular, it spawned an entire mystery series still read by kids today.


One warm night four children stood in front of a bakery. No one knew them. No one knew where they had come from.

(Opening Paragraph)










ABOUT THE BOOK:

One warm night four children stood in front of a bakery. no one knew them. No one knew where they had come from. Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny are orphans. Determined to make it on their own, they set out to find a safe place to live. They discover an old, red boxcar that provides shelter from a storm. Against all odds, they make it into their home-and become The Boxcar Children!





Sunday, February 05, 2017

Random Photo: Changing Skies

After three weeks of this:



Dense fog, Jan 19, 2017


. . . We finally saw this:



Scattered clouds, Feb 01, 2017




Friday, February 03, 2017

Skywatch Friday 183









From January 25, 2017



LINKING TO: Skywatch Friday






Thursday, February 02, 2017

Thursday Thirteen 447: 2016 Year in Books



Hello everyone! This week I have my annual look back on the previous year's reading. About half of these have been featured for Teaser Tuesday and all have been mentioned in Recently Read posts at some point during the year, so be sure to check out those links in the right hand sidebar if you're interested in a brief glimpse at what I've been reading.



01. Number of Books read: I had a goal of 80 and read 84. That's 23,415 pages. The shortest was Walking by Henry David Thoreau (48) and the longest was The Insider by Ridley Pearson (609). Average book length was 289 pages. Among those was a mini goal of ten classics, which I also achieved.

02. Genres/Authors I read: Among genres read were Classics, Romance, Mystery, Young Adult, and Literary Fiction. I read 58 different authors, and 11.5 by male authors (one was by a husband/wife team).

03. New-to-me authors: 23, including: Albert Camus, Jacqueline Winspear, Betty Hechtman, Amanda Flower, Fannie Flagg, David Sedaris, Rainbow Rowell, Diane Vallere, Helen Simonson.

04. Authors I read more than once: Juliet Blackwell, Agatha Christie, Kate Collins, Sheila Connolly, Roald Dahl, Charlaine Harris, Julie Hyzy, Amanda Lee, Nora Roberts, Barbara Ross, Amanda Stevens, Leann Sweeney, Diane Vallere, and Marty Wingate.

05. Most-read Author: Nora Roberts, with five books. She was followed by Sheila Connolly and Roald Dahl, at four books each, and Amanda Lee, Agatha Christie and Barbara Ross at three books each.

06. Authors I plan to read again: Ellery Adams, Nancy Atherton, Patricia Briggs, Agatha Christie, Kate Collins, Sheila Connolly, Julie Hyzy, Amanda Lee, Nora Roberts, Barbara Ross, Amanda Stevens, Leann Sweeney . . . to name but a few.

07. Classics Read: Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka; Walking by Henry David Thoreau; The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte; The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West; O, Pioneers! by Willa Cather; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain; Third Girl by Agatha Christie; The Call of the Wild by Jack London; Envious Casca by Georgette Heyer; The Stranger by Albert Camus

08. Book I did not finish: Far From the Madding Crowd. I made it about halfway through, then set it aside to read other books and never got back to it, though I would like to finish.

09. Best reads overall: O, Pioneers by Willa Cather (a reread), The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, United We Spy by Ally Carter (the book that made me miss my bus stop!), A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg, Starry Night by Debbie Macomber, Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson.

10. Biggest Disappointment: Criminal Confections by Colette London and Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris.

11. Most imaginative world(s): Ridley Pearson (The Insider), Amanda Stevens (The Visitor), and Charlaine Harris (Midnight Crossroad).

12. Weirdest read: Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, which I reread at beginning of 2016 for a classics group.

13. Reading goal for 2017: This is my seventh consecutive year joining the Goodreads Reading Challenge. In recent years I have set a goal of 100 books per year, but due to life changes lowered that goal to 80 books last year, and have set the same goal again this year. Within that are mini-goals, such as reading at least 10 classics and catching up on some of the favorite authors/series in Mount TBR.


What about you? What was your year in books like? What was the best book you read?

For a complete list of books read, click on the "Books 2016" tab at top of the page.




LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen





Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Wordless Wednesday 252: Too Many Vowels

(Scrabble Express game . . . granted I was winning, but still.
A few consonants would have been nice.)


LINKING TO:

Wordless Wednesday





Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Teaser Tuesday 347: A Patchwork Planet

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current book or recent read.
* Share a few "teaser" sentences from somewhere in the book.
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!



This week's teaser comes from A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler, a library book sale find. It's been a few years since I read anything by her, and I was not disappointed.



I am a man you can trust, is how my customers view me. Or at least, I'm guessing it is. Why else would they hand me their house keys before they leave for vacation? Why else would they depend on me to clear their attics for them, heave their air conditioners into their windows every spring, lug their excess furniture to their basements?"


(Opening paragraph)





ABOUT THE BOOK:
Genre: Contemporary Fiction


In this, her fourteenth novel--and one of her most endearing--Anne Tyler tells the story of a lovable loser who's trying to get his life in order.

Barnaby Gaitlin has been in trouble ever since adolescence. He had this habit of breaking into other people's houses. It wasn't the big loot he was after, like his teenage cohorts. It was just that he liked to read other people's mail, pore over their family photo albums, and appropriate a few of their precious mementos.

But for eleven years now, he's been working steadily for Rent-a-Back, renting his back to old folks and shut-ins who can't move their own porch furniture or bring the Christmas tree down from the attic. At last, his life seems to be on an even keel.

Still, the Gaitlins (of "old" Baltimore) cannot forget the price they paid for buying off Barnaby's former victims. And his ex-wife would just as soon he didn't show up ever to visit their little girl, Opal. Even the nice, steady woman (his guardian angel?) who seems to have designs on him doesn't fully trust him, it develops, when the chips are down, and it looks as though his world may fall apart again.

There is no one like Anne Tyler, with her sharp, funny, tender perceptions about how human beings navigate on a puzzling planet, and she keeps us enthralled from start to finish in this delicious new novel.





Sunday, January 29, 2017

Friday, January 27, 2017

Skywatch Friday 182

Taken on Thursday, 12 January 2017 . . . the last time we actually had a glimpse of the sun. Days have been dreary and overcast ever since. Not long after my attempted moon shots, it was completely obscured by clouds.














LINKING TO: Skywatch Friday





Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thursday Thirteen 446: Thirteen Cards

This week I am sharing thirteen of the 60-some assorted cards made during December and January that were for occasions other than Christmas. Every year I give a set of 50 to one of my friends who does not craft, consisting of a variety of thank you, birthday, sympathy, get well and thinking of you cards. This year I also added several baby, after coming across some dimension stickers and rub-ons that needed to be used up. The dimensionals were so old I had to doctor all of them, replacing the old, dried-up adhesives with new. A few of the birthday cards were set aside for personal use. Additional accessories include grosgrain ribbon, buttons, a scallop edge punch, and decorative brads.































LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen